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Jefferson INNOVATION: Healthcare and Design



Bon Ku, MD, MPP—founder and director of JeffDESIGN at Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) at Jefferson—and his team and students recently spoke with 6ABC about this first-of-its-kind program, which teaches future physicians to fill gaps in healthcare with human-centered, tech-savvy innovations.

One such area is in 3D printing, which people often assume is extremely difficult and expensive.

Rob Pugliese, PharmD, BCPS, associate director of JeffDESIGN and founding director of the Health Design Lab @JeffInnovation, demonstrates that 3D printing doesn’t have to be costly. He uses fused deposition modeling, essentially a “robotic glue gun” that lays out the design in melted plastic to create a finished product. Total cost? Only about $300. Pugliese says that 3D printing is vital as a means for designers to get ideas out of their heads and into real life.

Another unique challenge tackled in a creative way is how to preserve breast milk without refrigeration. Micaela Collins, a student from the design program, found that female garment factory workers in Bangladesh couldn’t provide breast milk to their babies once they return to work, due to a lack of breast pumps and refrigeration. Without adequate breast milk, many infants become sick or even die, so Collins and her group has provided electric pumps and training, and developed a way of pasteurizing breast milk to make it shelf-stable and safe to consume after sitting at room temperature for long periods of time.

Another student, Tim Bober, in his fourth year at SKMC, discovered that the third greatest fear for patients while in the hospital, after pain and being placed on a breathing machine, is sleep deprivation. When he noticed that the flashlights and phone lights nurses used to work in dark rooms were disturbing some patients’ sleep, he came up with Circa Light, a sleep-friendly, motion-sensing light that can be placed in patient rooms to help nurses see at night without waking patients.